At it's basic level - this is a game where you move your pieces from one part of the board to another - and the first to reach the destination wins. You start in the Colosseum, with 2 gladiators. The idea is that your gladiators escape from the colosseum, past the strategically placed, and moving, soldiers, and to one of the 6 country destinations. You roll dice to move both gladiators (white dice) and soldiers (black dice) in each turn, and try to pick up resources, such as weapons, armour, disguise, in order to make your escape, or fight. There are also two packs of cards, from which you take the top card when you roll an F/1 (Fate card) or R/1 (Resource card).
The Horrible Histories idea can be found in the fate and resource cards, when Nero can summarily kill a gladiator, you can be arrested, your food stolen, your opponent has to go into the arena to fight a tiger, or you can get help to fight.
The game is complicated. It's recommended at 8+, but I would suggest that the 8 to 9 year olds should, ideally, be familiar with board games, and understand a little bit about the Romans - understanding what a gladiator is, for example. That said, once you get into it, it is a good game. It takes a couple of go's to get the hang of the game. Our first version featured a whole different game play which my kids simply made up to fit the board! It was quite a fun version though - and the board does lend itself to making up your own games, if you enjoy doing that.
The game is educational. The art work on the Board game is lovely - and great for those with an eye for finding the details. As a whole, the game does give an impression of some aspects of life for a gladiator, when your fate is entirely at the whim of the ruling Roman elite. It also conveys the sense that gladiators came from all over the world.
In our family, my 10 year old daughter rated it highest, at 9/10. My 7 year old was less convinced, giving it 5/10. I enjoyed playing it with them - it certainly held my interest as an adult far more than many of the other board game offerings around at the moment for their age group. So on that basis, I would recommend it - if you are looking for a game to sit down and play as a family. But if your child has just finished reading the book (as my 7 year old had), then I'd be inclined to leave the game for now. In my experience the books are enjoyed by a younger age bracket than the game is designed for.